Tuesday December 12, 2017
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Nature in danger: Deforestation climbs high

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By Nithin Sridhar

The Center for Global Development based in Washington recently undertook analysis and interpretation of data and satellite imagery from around 100 countries and have estimated that around 714 million acres of tropical forests, roughly the size of India, may be cut-down by 2050.

tree-141692_640The report further observes that this deforestation may further add up to 169 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by 2050.

Deforestation is a world-wide crisis which will have far reaching and long-term consequences on the ecology and future of the world. Forests play a very vital role in the ecological cycle. They serve as carbon storage banks and hence help in reducing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere by absorbing them during photosynthesis.

Forests are also a big source of various commercial and medicinal products. Tropical forests, in particular, are home to various species of plants, birds, and animals. Without forests, the rich bio-diversity cannot be sustained which in turn will lead to ecological disaster. The green cover helps to enrich the soil and recharge the ground water level.

Forests also help in regulating the water cycle. They prevent wastage of rainwater and allow it to permeate through the soils into the ground water. This water in turn helps various animals and birds through ponds or streams and to humans through man-made wells.

One of the major reasons for deforestation is agriculture. For last many centuries, forests have been repeatedly cut down and cleared to cultivate those lands with food and commercial crops. While, farming and producing food is important, the consequences of these actions were not given importance. Forests were also used and are still being used as a source for firewood and timber. A large number of trees are cut every day for utilizing the logs for various human purposes like buildings houses, making furniture, making paper etc. Industrialization has also been another major reason for felling of trees.

tree-stump-395537_640

Other causes include forest fires, mining, wars and battles, overgrazing, urbanization etc. The zeal shown in the cutting of trees does not match the enthusiasm which needs to be there while planting new trees. As a result, the area under forests is dwindling every day at a fast pace. It is clear that the major causes of rapid deforestation are the human thoughts and actions. Neither people have a clear perspective about the vital role played by forests, ecologically or economically, nor do they show any interest to know about it. Furthermore, some people work under the assumption that the world is forever present for providing them and fulfilling all their fancies. Therefore, there is a competition between humans and all other species present in the world over natural resources.

In “Deforestation: Causes, Effects and Control Strategies”, while explaining about these driving forces of deforestation, Sumit Chakravarty and others, quote Pearce and Brown thus:

1. Competition between humans and other species for the remaining ecological niches on land and in coastal regions. This factor is substantially demonstrated by the conversion of forest land to other uses such as agriculture, infrastructure, urban development, industry and others.

2. Failure in the working of the economic systems to reflect the true value of the environment. Basically, many of the functions of tropical forests are not marketed and as such are ignored in decision making. Additionally, decisions to convert tropical forests are themselves encouraged by fiscal and other incentives.

DSC_7139One of the most important consequences of deforestation is the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This increase in carbon dioxide will lead to increased trapping of heat on the earth surface and hence increasing the temperature of earth’s surface. Therefore, the decreasing forest cover can be directly correlated to global warming; which will further lead to climate change that will cause heat stress, floods, draughts, crop-failures, water scarcity etc.

Other harmful effects of deforestation include destruction of biodiversity, decrease in soil fertility and decreased ground water levels. Deforestation will also impact the world economically and socially. Water and food scarcity will induce more migration and food wars. Many indigenous people will also be devoid of their forest homes, hence causing a destruction of their entire culture.

The best measure to tackle growing deforestation is to strictly monitor felling of trees and to plant new trees. The reforestation programs will have long-term positive impact on the globe. At the same time, the rate of deforestation must be brought down. Brazil can be a good example, which has reduced deforestation in the Amazon. Controlling population growth can be another effective measure.

Massive awareness campaigns to increase awareness about forests and sincere efforts by various governments across the globe can definitely bring down the deforestation and may even slowly increase forest cover.

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Puroshottam Das Gupta: An Auto rickshaw driver who is making the India Greener

Purushottam with other members celebrated the World Environmental Week from 5th June to 11th June by planting 50 trees

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Deforestation in India. Image Source: www.tree-nation.com
  • An increase in the living standards of people has resulted in the Ozone hole
  • Purushottam named the mission as ‘Sadbhavana- Hara Bhara Bharat’
  • Purushottam with other members celebrated the Environmental week from 5th June to 11th June by planting 50 trees

With the increase in global warming,the only hope of mankind seems to be trees that can restore balance. The increase in population, lots of trees are cut on a daily basis. This deforestation can lead to several disasters. The need of the hour is to grow trees and adopt afforestation.

Trees provide us with many benefits like they reduce noise pollution, the bind the soil together so as to prevent soil erosions, they lower the temperature by causing rainfall, they reduce the possibility of flood and storm runoff. They are also known as carbon sinks as they accumulate carbon in themselves by growing.

Deforestation in India. Image Source: www.tree-nation.com
Deforestation in India. Image Source: www.tree-nation.com

An increase in the living standards of people has resulted in the Ozone hole. Extra use of refrigerators, ACs are responsible for producing Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which are responsible in depleting Ozone layer. Depleting of Ozone layer will cause skin cancers, colour blindness and other problems which we will regret later.

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It is our responsibility to save trees to save ourselves. One such initiative is taken by Purushottam Das Gupta. Purushottam felt sad when the trees on the streets were cut down to plant new trees and the news ones are not given the proper care.

Puroshottam is an Auto Rickshaw driver in Thane, Mumbai. Purushottam with his family decided to plant new trees and take care of the existing trees. With this mission, he started carrying a 15 litre. Bottle to provide water to the trees. When his own efforts were not sufficient, he called the other Auto Rickshaw Drivers and urged them to join him in this mission. Purushottam named the mission as ‘Sadbhavana- Hara Bhara Bharat’.

Puroshottam Das Gupta planting tree along with group members. Image Source: TheBetterIndia
Puroshottam Das Gupta planting a tree along with group members. Image Source: TheBetterIndia

Today he has around 50 members in his group whose name he has written in the register. Puroshottam Das urged the members to celebrate their special days by planting trees. He celebrated his anniversary in March by planting two trees.

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Purushottam with other members celebrated the World Environmental Week from 5th June to 11th June by planting 50 trees. Now they have their Whatsapp group in which they post about the tree planting calendar.

Puroshottam is an example for all of us. Instead of cribbing about pollution, one has to take a stand on his own.

-prepared by Aparna Gupta, an intern with NewsGram. Twitter: @writetoaparna99

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4 responses to “Puroshottam Das Gupta: An Auto rickshaw driver who is making the India Greener”

  1. He is an inspiration for all of us. We should also plant trees instead of cribbing about the pollution and rise in global warming.

  2. If an ordinary rickshaw driver can do so much for the environment, we educated people can surely do much more

  3. This is a great initiative. Everyone should learn from him and should understand the importance of tree so that our future generation can have a better life.

  4. Indeed Laudable……hats off to this man Puroshottam Das Gupta . We need more people like him who can serve to the Mother Nature. This is high time to serve Mother Nature.

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Eco-Friendly cremation is Easy to Handle but Difficult to Sell in India

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Funeral pyre (Source Wikimedia: Commons)
  • A traditional pyre requires around 600 kgs of wood and will burn for five to six hours
  • Eco-friendly pyre requires only 150 to 200 kilogram of wood and will last only for two to three hours
  • Study shows that around 60 million trees are cut every year for cremation purpose

Indian is a land of festivals, culture and rituals. Rituals are sequence of activities one performs during a particular event be it wedding, birth or death. But some rituals may harm environment. Rituals of death are one of them. But there is now a method to reduce pollution, Eco-Friendly Cremation.

Traditional funeral pyre. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Process of cremation is thousand year old. When a body wrapped in white cloth on ladder carried by four people is cremated traditionally, emits toxic materials with pollution that can easily harm environment. But now that can be avoided by using eco-friendly pyres.

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Traditional system of cremation includes logs of wood which turns into deforestation. There are about 400 cremation ground in Delhi and each works in a traditional way. Around 7 million Hindus die every year. Study shows that around 60 million trees are cut every year for cremation purpose. A traditional pyre requires around 600 kilogram of wood and will burn for five to six hours.

Interior of Crematoria . Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Vinod Kumar Agarwal, the head of Mokshda Green Cremation System in Delhi recently devised a pyre that is Eco-friendly and that can reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by 60 percent. There are only 42 pyres all over the country and Agrawal is planning to make them 50 by end of the year. This Eco-friendly pyre requires only 150 to 200 kilogram of wood and will last only for two to three hours. Moreover, it is affordable, saving time and energy saving.

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Even after so many benefits, Agrawal found it difficult to sell this idea to Indian masses. According to Mokshda worker, he cremates only 7 bodies per day while the other using traditional method creates a more than twice number of bodies as he does.

Crematoria in Kolkata. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

This is because around 80% of population in India is Hindu. According to Hindu sacred text, any soul cannot attain Moksha without Agni. This is the utmost reason that urges people to use traditional pyres. Moreover, this practice is prevalent for years, so it is not easy for anyone to give up so easily.

But people are getting more and more conscious towards the environment and are moving towards the use of eco-friendly crematoriums.

-prepared by Aparna Gupta, an intern with NewsGram. Twitter @writetoaparna99

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3 responses to “Eco-Friendly cremation is Easy to Handle but Difficult to Sell in India”

  1. Now when we are aware of the practices which might be a threat to the environment, we must take the initiative to find an alternative.

  2. Instead of following our religion blindly, we should look at issues from a broad perspective. If the environment can be saved and resources be conserved, why not utilize this method?

  3. when the world will be polluted and it will be choking us to death, where will our rituals take us? instead of being stubborn about it, if we can think of the general good of the future, it will be better for all of us.